• Exclusives

    Meet Atlanta’s New Third Baseman

    By Tara Rowe

    Sunday afternoon the Atlanta Braves completed a trade with the Reds sending relief pitcher J.J. Hoover to Cincinnati for power-hitting third baseman Juan Francisco.

    Francisco may not be a name many Braves’ fans know, having spent the majority of seven seasons in the minor leagues, but he is a name fans will become familiar with immediately as he takes a spot on the newly finalized 25-man roster. Francisco will add to Atlanta’s depth at the infield corners as well as left field, and he is slated to be Chipper Jones’ primary stand-in at third base as the Braves await Chipper’s return from a knee injury.

    Who is Juan Francisco? Francisco signed with the Reds in 2004 as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic. As he progressed in the Reds’ organization, scouts began talking about Francisco’s Ryan Howard-like power at the plate. He had exceptional numbers at Triple-A Louisville last year, batting .307 with 15 homers and 50 RBI in 300 at-bats. However, due to the presence of MVP Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen, Francisco had few opportunities to prove himself in the majors. In 81 big league games over 3 seasons, Francisco hit .284 with 5 HRs and 29 RBIs


    While the Braves saw a great deal of talent in RHP J.J. Hoover, bringing in a bat has been an important goal for the team and Braves GM, Frank Wren, had been eyeing Francisco for some time. The value of Francisco’s bat, though left-handed, to the Braves outweighed the need for another arm in the system.

    With all of the young talented arms in the Braves’ organization, Hoover wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pitch with the big league club until September call-ups, while Francisco has the ability to make an impact on the big league club right away. Francisco was out of options with the Reds and a move to Atlanta may be the change of scenery the young third baseman needs to fulfill his potential.

    With Juan Francisco’s power and the looming retirement of Chipper Jones, Francisco may have a long-term future with the club.

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